During this week I have been using Spotify to catch up on some of those things I missed out on the first time around.
Sometimes it gets a bit embarrassing to realise just how many popular and important albums I have never even heard or properly listened to. Only slighly embarrassing though, because I know the reasons.
One huge cause of those gaps is that back in the day we didn’t have the proliferation of specialist digital radio stations or streaming services or YouTube. The only practical way to hear something was to buy it or know somebody who had bought it – and if you could only afford one or two LPs a month that didn’t make a dent in what there is to hear.
Added to that, there was always so much going on. If for whatever reason you didn’t get to hear some new album at the time, you had kind of missed the boat because after a few months friends were more likely to be wanting to play you the latest thing and not something a year old.
Over the last few years I have been delving into old stuff like the early Bee Gees and Chicago albums, Little Feat and the Fall. This week it has been Derek & The Dominos and the Wu-Tang Clan.
Obviously I was familiar with Layla as it still gets played all the time, but I had never had the inclination to listen to anything else by Derek & The Dominos and that is partly because I was too young to know Clapton before the drug rehab and subsequent Armani-wearing phase. It was only when somebody at work mentioned how good their album and concert tapes were that I looked on Spotify, found their Fillmore concert on there and realised that it was probably the best thing Clapton ever did.
Another thing that sometimes stopped me getting into anything is that I can get a bit daunted by back catalogue. This is partly because I don’t know where to start if somebody has loads of albums behind them, and partly a nagging worry that if I do really like them I will have to spend a fortune catching up. This is what kept me away from Rush, Neil Young and others.
With the Wu-Tang Clan I did actually buy one of their albums but it didn’t do much for me, apart from the track Gravel Pit. I know that the band only made a few albums, but once you add in all the individual members’ solo albums it is very complicated. I think the band have 6 studio albums, including the one that is being released this year, but the individual members have released over 50 solo albums, so where do you start?
I did the obvious thing and started at the beginning, listening to their debut album and finally I can see what all the fuss was about. It really is one of the best hip hop albums, right up there with NWA and Dr Dre.
At this point I decided to investigate Slade. I’ve heard all the singles, but wondered what the albums were like, including all the non-single tracks. It was here that I ran into a brick wall, because Spotify only has two tracks by Slade. I suppose I could look on other sites, or I could just try and catch up with another band who passed me by like Pearl Jam.